Sometimes, an employer will attempt to find pretextual reasons to terminate a worker who has suddenly become ill. A Planned Parenthood location in Indiana was sued by a former employee for discrimination.
Employee is terminated even though she had a valid medical excuse for time off
The federal discrimination case was brought in the Southern District of Indiana by a woman who said she was denied family leave. This was after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2016. The situation escalated when the plaintiff said she needed time off and other accommodations for her treatment. She was required to have a biopsy done every three months. However, she was denied this request for time off, even after she used the Family and Medical Leave Act. The organization gradually started to make her job much more difficult, even though she was employed by the organization for three years before the diagnosis without issue. Employers are supposed to allow employees to take time off for certain issues listed in the FMLA, and this is required by law in every state. In one particular incident, the plaintiff was bleeding and in extreme pain when she notified her supervisor that she could not work. The supervisor responded that she could not have the day off without an approved request.
The labor attorney representing the victim said she was surprised that the organization essentially retaliated against someone with cancer, rather than providing accommodations as required by law. A representative for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky said that they are committed to providing a safe environment for clients and employees, but did not specifically address the details of the case. Their human resources department is looking into the allegations and they cannot comment during an ongoing investigation.
The lawsuit is seeking lost wages, punitive damages, and reinstatement to her former position or comparable pay.
Discrimination claims can be related to various factors where an employee is mistreated or unfairly disciplined due to something aside from job performance or violations of neutral company policies. Most discrimination lawsuits are related to gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation, but stories such as this show that people can be mistreated by an employer due to a medical condition or disability as well.
What are punitive damages?
Punitive damages are available in many kinds of civil lawsuits where the defendant has engaged in conduct that is egregious and troubling to the legal system. These kinds of additional damages are meant to punish the defendant for the conduct in question and deter similar behavior.
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